The colorless smoke that broke from her pale lips gave way to another absence. The silence of her mind resonated so much on the walls of her body that the beach was much noisier than usual. For a moment, just for a moment, she wished everyone to be silent. The singer playing in the background, the lovers watching the Bosphorus, the mischievous children, the sea waves, her own silence, and the wind… At least tonight, she should have been left alone with her mind barely emptied. Nor should she eavesdrop on people’s grievances, nor the senseless cries of seagulls. Istanbul should have kept quiet, even if it was just for one night.
She hugged his snow-white coat a little tighter, rubbed her hands together, blew the hot steam from her lips into her palms, and in a final attempt to warm up, she tucked her cold hands between her legs. Her jeans were damp, but she didn’t feel it at all. She had been sitting as still as possible on a rusty bench as if the slightest movement would shake the whole of Istanbul. She threw one leg over the other in slow motions, perhaps to the hundredth, releasing steam from her mouth into the void and watched it disappear, with calm eyes. Her eyes slowly moved to the left. She looked at the boy in his twenties with the guitar case open in front of him. His curly auburn hair was getting more and more tangled into the wind. He was playing familiar songs while looking around.
“How young,” the woman thought, “at the beginning of everything.” At that moment, her eyes met with the young boy’s, but the woman immediately pulled hers away. Uneasy at being caught, she lifted her head, pushed herself slightly forward on the bench, and looked at the stars. She searched for a star or two, as if she were looking for it on the street, but could not find one. “You missed all your stars,” she said. “Unfaithful.” She sniffed and immediately grimaced, giving it back quickly. She was bored with the sea and its makeshift smell without caring for anyone,
“I’m bored of you,” she shouted into the throat. “I’m bored of you.”
Her eyes filled with tears; she said it was because of the cold. This time her hands and knees trembled, “the wind is blowing too much, it’s because of that,” she repeated. “Your sea used to stink, too.”
Now, a rebellious drop had escaped from the bars at the fountains of her eyes. She touched her cheekbones first, glided, the drop kissed her cheek and spilled onto her damp pants. First, her cheekbones dried, then her cheek, and finally his trousers… Still, it left a huge mark on Istanbul. It also rained that night, it rained in Istanbul, nobody even heard of it.
Madam, the bus is leaving!”
said the man in his thirties. He was wearing black tight-fitting trousers and a white shirt pulled to his elbows.
The woman turned her gaze back, with her usual slowness, shook her head at the man, glanced down the street, turned her face back to the sea; another tear fell, though she had just dried up. She sniffed, but this time she didn’t make that face, nor was she told anything. First, she prepared herself, then Istanbul. “So,” she said, “it’s time to leave, ha?” She inhaled the sea — which she had called stinking — like a huge hug and left it behind as if it were a goodbye to an old friend.
She slowly got up from the bench, rubbed the corners of her fingers on her cheeks, released her steps, followed the man into the alley, looked at the bus, looked at the people, looked at the tired driver, handed over her suitcase, and barely made it to the dingy door of the bus. She smiled slightly, but her lips could not bear the trace of happiness. She was aware of it. She looked at the soulless street and the gray cobblestones as if waiting for a final answer. A minute or two passed, the people in the back began murmuring. “Come on, what are you waiting for, madam!” The assistant touched the woman’s shoulder and pointed to the door. “Please hurry!”
The woman staggered up the stairs, looked at the half-occupied seats, people looking at the time and the crowd preparing to sleep. She looked at the ticket that she took out of her coat, looking for the seat number, but could not focus on the writing. Memories were not leaving her sight, and friends would get old if she left. She barely found the trick, moved forward, and threw herself into the single seat. She unzipped her coat, took it off slowly, and slipped on her headphones. Despite the noise of the city that she had just asked to stop, she clogged her ears with the music. She let out a big sigh, had thoughts that only added more weight in her chest, and she turned the music up to full volume. “Oh, dear friend,” she said. The music was also playing: “Oh, dear friend.”
And just before the bus departed, she whispered: